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Friday, August 23, 2019

More than copper: APEC holds Services meeting to increase free trade in the sector

During this series of meetings, which ended on Thursday and were held in the context of the Third Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM3), participants discussed topics associated with domestic regulations, transparency and predictability in the area of services.  

Puerto Varas, August 23, 2019. Copper has always been Chile’s flagship product on the international stage. However, thanks to growing commercial openness, globalization and connectivity among countries, the services area (like trade or tourism) has taken on a leading role in the national economy and currently represents 63% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That number is 60% of the GDP for the entire APEC bloc.

In this context, the APEC Group on Services (GOS) has conducted analyses and discussions in order to drive the increase in the liberalization and competitiveness of the sector. As such, as part of the activities related to the Third Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM3) that is being held in Puerto Varas, these talks took place during the Services Meeting, which culminated with the presence of International Economic Relations Undersecretary Rodrigo Yáñez.

“Services activity is tremendously important in this community of 21 APEC economies, and the leaders will receive the results of these meetings in the Santiago Meeting. We believe it is very important to have agreed to create an index to measure how restricted services are in the region, measures to promote the mobility of talent through the 21 Asia-Pacific economies and the application of principles in areas of domestic policy that favor the exportation of services,” Yáñez said.

During this series of meetings, participants discussed topics associated with domestic regulations, transparency and predictability. They also gave momentum to the Bogor Goals –a commitment agreed to in 1994 by the APEC leaders to achieve free and open trade and investment in the region by 2020- in the area of services. They highlighted the progress that has been made in the domestic regulation of services, the development of an APEC index for measuring the regulatory environment in the trade of services within the bloc and facilitation of talent mobility, among others.

The tertiary sector is the most important economic activity in the country, and has grown at an average annual rate of 13% since 2003. However, services exports only represent 12% of total shipments because barriers among the economies persist. There is a large margin for continued growth, which is why officials believe that initiatives such as the Services Meeting are very important for seeking out solutions and reaching agreement in areas such as talent mobility and visa processing.

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